2018-04-15 / News

Rep. Howell: Voters need to ‘pony up,’ pass a road millage

810-452-2616 • pfoley@mihomepaper.com

Rep. Gary Howell covered a wide range of topics with Almont Chamber of Commerce members Friday at their monthly Wake Up with Almont event. 
Photo by Phil Foley Rep. Gary Howell covered a wide range of topics with Almont Chamber of Commerce members Friday at their monthly Wake Up with Almont event. Photo by Phil Foley ALMONT — Almont Chamber of Commerce members gathered Friday morning at the Almont Lions Club for burritos, coffee and Lansing chatter.

Rep. Gary Howell, R-Deerfield Township spoke about school funding, transportation, school safety, gerrymandering and efforts to create a part-time legislature.

Howell warned chamber members that there’s a push underway from the Macomb County legislative delegation to adjust the state highway funding formula that could hurt counties like Lapeer.

Currently, he said, state gas tax dollars are allocated on a formula based on population and road miles. Howell said several urban counties want that calculation based on lane miles, which would mean a four-lane road would generate more road funding than twolane road.

Since the proposal wouldn’t increase funding but merely shift it, Howell said rural counties like Lapeer could see a drop in money for roads.

However, he said one of the reasons Lapeer County has terrible roads “is our own fault. Every county in the Thumb in Michigan has voted extra road millage, except Lapeer County.”

While saying he’s not an advocate of high taxes, Howell said he regrets that 57-percent of county voters said no the last time a road millage was on the ballot. “We’ve really got to pony up at some point and we’ve really got to make a choice. There’s no free lunch,” he said.

Howell said he’s glad Lt. Gov. Brian Calley’s efforts to create a part-time legislature failed last fall. “Superficially, a part-time legislature sounds great to a conservative,” he said, but “it would have been a disaster.”

Howell said a January-April legislature would have put too much power in the governor’s office.

School funding, Howell said is an issue he’s been working on since he was elected. “Lapeer County has gotten the short end of the stick when it comes to educational funding.” He noted that while every district in Michigan gets a base funding from Lansing, several affluent districts in Oakland County get significantly more per student. “That’s a travesty and we’re working to close that gap,” he said.

“The good news for this year,” Howell said, Gov. Rick Snyder is proposing the largest funding increase for K-12 education in eight years.

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